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5 reasons why staying in Shanghai over CNY is totally fine

You don't have to go anywhere near a train station, for a start

 Unsplash: Athena Lam
We're getting ready to ring in the Year of the Dog which means it's time to make plans for Chinese New Year. The world's biggest human migration (even bigger than when everyone left MySpace for Facebook back in 2008 or whenever), whether you're travelling domestically or going overseas, the rush at this time of year is absolutely ridiculous – they've even added extra metros to accommodate for the sheer bulk of people.

Photograph credit: Helen Roxburgh.

No, the picture above isn't the main stage at Glastonbury or Donald Trump's inauguration – there aren't enough people for it to be the latter, obviously – it's Hongqiao Railway Station last year. Personal space is nothing more than an abstract concept, a dream, a fantasy. We don't even want to think about the queue at the Starbucks...

It's almost enough to make you not want to travel, right? And there's no shame in that. Sure, people might judge you for wanting to stay put in Shanghai, no matter whether you're a local, a foreigner or a waidiren. But leaving the city during Spring Festival is often more hassle than it's worth. Here's five reasons why staying in Shanghai during CNY is totally fine.

1. You don't have to go to a train station or airport

Remember that picture of Hongqiao Railway Station you saw like 30 seconds ago? Horrifying wasn't it? If you don't travel outside of Shanghai for Spring Festival, you don't have to worry about any of the horrors associated with train stations or airports. No terrifying ticket queues or bag checks. No unnecessary human contact or feelings of commuter's remorse. Have you ever actually stood next to another person? Gross. Yes, you'll probably still take the metro, but it'll actually be pleasantly quiet. Still expect an ayi to beat you to your seat though...

2. You don't have to visit family


We don't mean this in a bad way, time with family should be cherished. But for many of us, Spring Festival means probing questions to do with love, life and work. 'Why are you still single?' 'How much are you getting paid?' 'Why do you live in China?' 'What's a startup and what is this bitcoin people keep talking about?' Going home and hanging out with relatives can be stressful. Sure, the fridge is full and they're happy to see you, but the novelty soon wears off by the time the fifth member of your extended family asks you when you're going to get married. And think of all the money you're going to save on hongbao.

3. You won't have to queue for stuff

Fewer people in Shanghai = less time waiting in line. The maths checks out. Imagine: first in line at your favourite coffee shop; not having to battle to get a table at your preferred brunch joint; your food delivery order turning up in like 30 minutes. Dreamy. However, your bubble will be burst if you go anywhere vaguely touristy during the CNY period – think The Bund, Nanjing Xi Lu, Yu Gardens, etc. If you're ever walking down a lonely street and are wondering where all the people are at this time of year, they're probably at The Bund... Here's a list of places that are/aren't open over CNY, so you know where you won't be queueing.

4. You can enjoy some quality me time


As you already know, Shanghai is a hectic city and it often feels like you're living life at 100mph. With everyone out of town, you have the perfect excuse to slow down, do nothing and not see anybody. Spend a week in bed. Watch all the films. All of them. Play an incredible amount of video games. Read a library's worth of books. Don't wear any clothes. Who cares? Human interaction is overrated, anyway, and you can live happily without setting foot outside your front door.

5. You have time to mull over the big issues and the things that really matter

Who are we? Why are we here? Okay, maybe not issues that deeply philosophical, but the other things. Like, how much money does the guy who shines shoes at Found 158 make on a Saturday night? Why has the person living in the apartment above us been drilling since 2016? Where did my ayi put my shoes? Do the staff at Kartel know everyone there is on a Tinder date? Why can't I find the Propaganda Poster Art museum? Why are the Chinese words for 'snow' and 'blood' so similar and why did that make the last couple of weeks of January so confusing for me? Why is that dog better dressed than its owner? Does the DJ at Taxx know that the bass is far too heavy and that going there is like clubbing inside a vibrating Nokia 3210? Who stole my bike? You know, the big questions...

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